A tin oxide sol is deposited on platinum electrodes (12) of a sensor (10). The sol is calcined at a temperature of 500 to 800.degree. C. to produce a thin film of tin oxide with a thickness of about 150 nm to 2 .mu. and having a nano-crystalline structure with good stability. The sensor rapidly detects reducing gases, such as carbon monoxide, or hydrocarbons and organic vapors. Sensors using films calcined at around 700.degree. C. have high carbon monoxide selectivity with a response time of around 4 minutes and a recovery time of 1 minute, and therefore provide good detection systems for detection of trace amounts of pollutants such as toxic and flammable gases in homes, industrial settings, and hospitals.